A CEO’s Vue on UK film industry growth

The movies may have proved economically resilient during previous recessions but this one feels a little different, says Tim Richards, founder and CEO of Vue Entertainment.

This interview with was filmed at a Top Track 250 event, as part of Grant Thornton’s sponsorship of the Sunday Times Top Track 250. For text readers, we’ve also transcribed the responses below. We’d like to thank our interviewees for taking the time to give their views.

Q. Given the economic instability how have you managed to achieve such impressive growth?

A. The cinema exhibition industry has been economically resilient for years, maybe even 100 years. In every single major recession there’s been, we’ve actually been flat or up as an industry. And this has really been no different. 

Having said that, I think this feels a little bit different than it has in the past: it’s a little bit more severe, it’s a little bit longer, so we are paying a little bit more attention than we have in the past. 

For us, we’re about movies, and the good news and the bad news is that we are more reliant on Hollywood and less reliant on the economy.

Q. The way people consume film entertainment is changing. How do you expect to respond to this?

A. Well, I think that if you look at last year, it was the third highest year in terms of attendance in modern history, certainly in the last 50 years in the UK. Cinema attendance has been growing since 1985, when the very first multiplex was introduced here, and that’s because we are out-of-home entertainment. 

Everything you consume in-home – and I use the term in-home generically to include iPads, iPhones, whatever it might be, multiplatform – is typically for an individual’s private use or a very small group. It’s not a social outing like you get in a cinema and certainly what we’re seeing is that there is always going to be demand to go out and share a comedy – laugh together, cry together, be scared together socially – we are social beings.

Q. Do you see an international expansion opportunity?

A. Certainly if you look at the BRIC generally, there are huge opportunities out there and they are certainly 10-15 years behind the rest of the world in terms of our sector, in cinema penetration. 

Having said that, for us we look at the opportunities in Europe and Europe is still very highly fragmented. There are a lot of high quality assets here, probably similar to where the US was 15 years ago. And what you’re going to see in the next five years, certainly in Europe, is a period of consolidation. Globally BRIC and other emerging markets will probably be another five or 10 years beyond that even, in terms of consolidation.